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Autobiography: Donald L. Mark

The First Decade: 1930-1940



Jessie Mae Edmon Mark and Isaac Tinsley Mark c.1930 I joined the human race early in the morning of December 25, 1930, in Charlevoix, Michigan. The story is that it was a very cold, blizzardy night. As I was being born, my father was out in the blizzard summoning a doctor. Sounds about right. I was my father's eighth child (one of whom had died in infancy). I was my mother's fourth child (plus the one who had died in infancy). And they were only in their mid-thirties. Since they weren't conscientious Catholics, they must have been passionate Protestants (I know they were Protestants; I'm assuming the passionate part).


House (now a church) at Charlevoix I don't remember Charlevoix much, since we moved when I was pretty young. This photo is of the church next door to the house I was born in, which had a similar stone wall. At the time, the house was the parsonage of the church my father was minister of, the Church of God. I do remember liking the feel of those stones, how nice and round they were. Maybe they reminded me of something.


Jesse Paul Mark and Donald Leslie Mark c.1934 We moved to East Jordan, a few miles away, when I was about three. The only thing I remember about East Jordan is that the bathroom was just inside the door to the left. I wonder why I remember that.
Our next move was to Cadillac, Michigan, a few miles south. We lived near the old Cass School, at 515 (or 1515???) Aldrich Street. My father was the minister of the church which is just across the street. I remember singing a song in church, "Rescue the Perishing"; I thought it was "Rescue the Parachute." Church was, of course, the center of our lives. I remember the 5-cent triple-dip ice cream cones. I attended kindergarten, first, and part of second grade in Cadillac. The thing I remember best about kindergarten was singing "We'll Go In and Out the Window." First and second grade are a blank. We lived next to the railroad tracks, and played on them a lot.
Herbert Lee Mark and Donald Leslie Mark c. 1936 Next we moved to Decatur, Michigan, south of Kalamazoo. We lived there a comparatively long time, three years. I have a lot of memories of Decatur, mostly good.

I attended the rest of second grade, all of third grade, and part of fourth grade in Decatur. I remember a little girl there—Leah Rose Kaplin— whose father owned a grocery store. He brought a play store to our class, one with little make-believe boxes of all kinds of food. About 40 years later I drove through Decatur, and Kaplin's grocery was still there. I went in to see if Leah Rose was still around, but left without asking. One of my teachers was Miss Cary, who had been Edgar Bergen's teacher (so the story goes). My sister was born in Decatur, at 118 W. St. Mary's Street, in a stucco house.

We moved to Antwerp, Ohio, when I was halfway through the fourth grade. None of us wanted to move: my sister was only a few days old, my father had come down with rheumatoid arthritis and was in constant pain, we were flat broke, the car was not dependable, and Dad had been hired as the temporary minister at the church we were going to and the pay was uncertain. Dad had promised Mom it would be warm in Ohio; I doubt if she believed him, but at any rate it was a very cold winter 1939. It was the worst year of the depression for us; we received a food basket at Thanksgiving from the Salvation Army. That was a deep humiliation for my mother.

The Second Decade

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